Woman Studying on LaptopFlickr / Laura Taylor

Security experts are warning that ransomware is going to become a big problem this year. And that means you should really be taking steps to protect yourself now, if you haven’t done so already.

Ransomware, which is a form of malware, works by either holding your entire computer hostage or by blocking access to all of your files by encrypting them. Once infected, you will generally receive a message stating that you must pay a certain amount of money, usually $500 or more, to get the key that will decrypt your data. An LA hospital was the victim of a ransomware attack last week and ended up paying $17,000 to a hacker group to get its data back.

Tech Insider spoke with Liviu Arsene, a senior security researcher at the security firm BitDefender, to get some tips on how to avoid ending up in a situation where all of your data is taken hostage. 

Here’s what he recommended.

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